What Happens When Children Manipulate a Parent’s Estate Plan?

Sibling rivalry is common, even into adulthood, and when siblings start to fight over a parent’s estate, those rivalries can land everyone in front of a judge. Even only children who will inherit their parents’ entire estate can become manipulative, attempting to subvert their parents’ wishes and gain access to their money.

When children manipulate a parent’s estate plan, the stakes can become high, leading to a legal nightmare. Here we examine why this happens and how you can prevent becoming a victim of this type of financial manipulation.


Adult children often attempt to manipulate a parent’s estate plan when they feel they are not getting the amount of money they are entitled to. In one case, a court had to step in when an adult daughter, who was the executor of her mother’s estate, could gain control of her elder mother’s significant assets. As a result, the daughter was able to spend the majority of her mother’s assets – money to be used for her life care – before the elder’s son petitioned the court to appoint a conservator to protect his mother’s funds. By the time the court approved this appointment, the daughter had spent nearly all of her mother’s money.

Elder Abuse and Financial Manipulation

Many elders have become victims of financial abuse when they become unable to make decisions for themselves and have to depend on their adult children to step in and take over their affairs. When elders suffer from cognitive difficulties, adult children may use this to their advantage, manipulating wills, trusts, and executorships. In some cases, they may transfer retirement accounts to themselves, coerce their parents into signing over deeds to their homes or use a power of attorney to raid their parents’ accounts. Such practices are considered elder abuse, and the children can be held civilly and criminally responsible.

How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Suppose you know of an elderly relative who is likely to become a victim of elder abuse and financial manipulation. In that case, the best thing you can do is ask the court to appoint a neutral conservator who will handle their finances on their behalf. This will protect the elder’s estate and ensure they are provided for. Likewise, if you are the parent and you suspect that your children will fight over your estate or try to manipulate you if you become vulnerable, you can set up legal protections to ensure this does not happen.

Unfortunately, cases in which a parent’s assets become collateral damage in a war of attrition between siblings are all too common. Fortunately, the courts have acknowledged that this is a frequent occurrence and have put laws and systems in place to protect you.

How to Choose an Attorney to Protect Your Assets

While most people have a family attorney who handles the routine legal matters of life, you will need one specializing in estate planning. The best step you can take at this time is to contact a Gainesville real estate planning lawyer who can help you to preserve what you have worked so hard to build up. Fights over money can destroy relationships that have been strong throughout the years, and it can cause intense, lingering conflict that may never be resolved.

You may have specific wishes for how your estate is managed, how you spend your assets in your retirement years, and where you will live. In addition, you can allocate your funds to your children as you see fit, avoiding the fights over who will inherit your estate or gain control of your assets.

Find a team of estate planning attorneys experts in defending seniors and helping warring families. Don’t spend your years mediating fights between your children over who will have control of your estate. Specialized law firms can help create plans to protect you from financial manipulation and carry out your final wishes. You will benefit from a free, no-obligation initial case consultation with most such firms. Once the estate planning attorney understands your situation, they will help you plan your estate carefully, fairly, and securely.

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